by October 6, 2010 0 comments

The workshop organized at Agra by Microsoft Research India witnessed distinguished researchers, professors and PhD students from top world class universities & labs. N Ravi Shankar, Joint Secy, Deptt of IT, Govt of India, was also present to give viewpoints and stated his vision to see India as an IT power.

The event was attended by participants from universities including NYU, MIT, IIT, IIM, University of Cambridge, etc, and from the world class research labs including Intel, Microsoft Asia, NEC, etc. Networking researchers discussed policy, and technical and societal issues pertaining to ‘connectivity to next billion’ rural populace. The discussion basically revolved around wireless communication, what and how to provide broadband services for the people in rural areas. One of them was the ‘National Knowledge Network’ which aims to maintain the quality of education in different institutions. For instance, lecture of an IIT professor can be delivered and shared with the students of other private institutes using technology.

Lakshminarayanan Subramanian of NYU discussed on proposing new Service Integration Gateway in computing for development. His vision is to have a directional backbone with local area network and have bandwidth services at extremely low power. With this, he wants to provide cheap, fast & efficient bandwidth connectivity using Wi-Fi by making solar devices. Then he also spoke about the components, challenges and pitfalls of cellular networks in rural areas.

Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala from IIT Madras shared his thoughts on whether India can become a leader in wireless technology and get broadband to its villages? He also shared his thoughts on what does it take to become a technology leader. This calls for one to understand the niche for the nation, define needs and be cognizant of who all are driving the emerging standards, etc. He also spoke about how wireless is the key to broadband access. He spoke about different technologies like GPRS/EDGE/ 3G-1x/EVDO, LTE & WiMax, etc. He further added that due to the small cell size in India, the focus should be more on the cell-edge performance. Not only this, he shared his thought that in order for India to obtain broadband in rural areas, we must take fibre back-haul to each cell tower and then only the 3G, BWA base-stations needs to be deployed. Also he talked about some accessibility challenges of fibre network including can our community respond by building Wi-Fi like adhoc-mesh network?

Let’s have a look at some of the technologies that were discussed in the meeting.

WiMAX( Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is basically a telecommunication platform. WiMAX provides similar performance to 802.11/WiFi networks. Intended for ‘metropolitan area network’ (MAN), WiMAX has the ability to provide broadband wireless access (BWA) upto 30 miles (50 km) for fixed stations. In addition to this, they can provide access up to 5-15 km for mobile stations as well.
WiMAX combines the two basic forces of modern Internet; broadband & wireless in order to deliver high speed broadband Internet access. It is also considered as an effective last mile solution that delivers connectivity to home or in hotspots such as airports, colleges, etc. Based on the IEEE 802.16 standard form, it delivers a point-to-multi-point architecture making it easy to provide broadband connectivity where wired connections would be a cumbersome. This standard that forms the basis of WiMAX is also sometimes referred to as ‘Fixed WiMAX’, ‘Mobile WiMAX’, ‘802.16d’ & ‘802.16e’. WiMAX can be a fruitful solution that would help rural areas in providing Internet connectivity where high speed lines are n ot yet available.

Some of the uses of WiMAX comprises instead of; providing different services such as data, IPTV & telecommunication services. Apart from this, using variety of devices, portable mobile broadband connectivity across the cities can also be provided.

Third generation (3G) of wireless technology
The third generation of wireless technologies comes with a lot of advancements from its predecessors, 1G & 2G. Before we take a look at 3G, lets go back in time & take a look at 1G & 2G.It all began in early 80s when 1G came into picture with AMPS cellular networks. To carry analog voice over channels in the 800 MHz frequency band, Advanced Mobile Phone Services networks used Frequency Division Multiplexing Access (FDMA).

With the deployment of two competing digital voice standards by mobile operators, there emerged the second generation (2G) in the 90s. It was commercially launched on the GSM standards in Finland with three primary benefits. 2G introduced data services for mobile that started with SMS text messages, digital encryption of phone conversations and higher level of penetration levels as 2G systems were more efficient on the spectrum.To facilitate growth, increase bandwidth & support more applications, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defined the 3G of mobile telephony standards-IMT 2000. For instance GSM that can deliver voice also delivers circuit-switched data. So, 3G started delivering packet-switched data with better spectral efficiency in order to support multimedia applications as well.
Two distinct families of 3G were formed namely 3GPP and 3GPP2. 3GPP or the 3rd generation partnership project was formed in 1988 to foster deployment of 3G networks.

It evolved as the following technologies; GPRS offering speeds upto 114 Kbps, EDGE (enhanced data rates
for global evolution) that reached upto 384 Kbps. UMTS Wideband CDMA has the capability of downlink speeds upto 1.92 Mbps which further boosted to 14 Mbps with the HSDPA. The main reason behind 3GPP2 was to help North American & Asian operators to transition to 3G which were then using CDMA 2000.

The 3rd generation partnership project evolved as the following; One times radio transmission technology (1xRTT) that offers speed upto 144 Kbps, evolution-data optimized (EV-DO) that increased the downlink speed upto 2.4 Mbps, EV-DO Rev. A further increased the downlink speed upto 3.1 Mbps while EV-DO Rev.B provides speed upto 4.9 Mbps. And last ultra mobile broadband (UMB) was slated to reach 288 Mbps on the downlink.3G or the 3rd generation of technologies includes W-CDMA, cellular radio & WLAN. Some of the enhancements over previous networks & 2.5G comprise of; IPTV, higer data speed, video-conferencing support, web and WAP browsing at higher speed and more.

Successor to 3G & 2G family of standards, it is also referred to as the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. Being a multi purpose & ingenuous technology, 4G utilizes most of the packet switched technology. It will also provide facilities such as ultra broadband Internet access, IP telephony and a lot more as this system provides a secure IP-based solution. Data transmission rates varying between 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps is also provided by 4G technology.

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